If you're thinking about starting your own podcast in 2020, you're not alone. New, high-profile podcasts seem to be popping up every day. But don't be dismayed! Even though the podcast market is flooded, the podcast audience is bigger than ever. Almost a third of all American teens and adults listened to podcasts in any given month in 2019, and newly released podcasts have made enormous headlines throughout 2020.
To get your own podcast off the ground, you'll want to make sure you're putting your best foot forward, from audio equipment and topic scheduling to cover art and social media blurbs. In this article, I'll walk you through the most important things you need to know in order to make eye-catching, distinctive cover art for your podcast, all for free & online.
Make your Title Stand Out
The main subjects of podcast cover art can fall into several categories: people, logos, and titles. Most likely, you're not a celebrity or major public figure, so the first category is unlikely to bring new people into your podcast. And one of the most effective ways that podcast audiences grow is by word of mouth, so the most important thing for everyone to associate with your new show is its title.
Many famous media publishers use the tile as the main visual feature of a podcast cover. For straightforward shows like This American Life, the plain text style works well, and for some more niche podcasts like Lore, it can add an air of mystery that matches the show's style.
In the case of Lore, a distinctive but unedited typeface and background texture make for a memorable cover to greet you on your Now Playing screen, even without the hand-designed textual elements in other text-heavy covers like Bad Faith.
Keep it simple
A lot of the places people will see your podcast's cover art will be really small. When your podcast appears in Spotify, Apple, or Google podcast lists, Libsyn mobile directories, or Overcast menus, you won't be able to see your cover art with much detail. That's why it's always better to keep it fairly simple – if your cover is too busy, it won't be as noticeable in a crowd of thumbnails.
To make your cover art more recognizable as a thumbnail image on a small screen, make sure the main features are simple and easy to see. Try to avoid photographs, fine or fancy writing, and busy backgrounds. Here are some phenomenal podcast covers that balance simplicity and distinctiveness:
Show What Your Podcast is About
If you're one of "the little guys," your podcast won't be well known to everyone who comes across your cover art. And since you want your cover art to attract as much attention as possible, you should use it to show people why they should be interested. It doesn't have to be much – check out the covers for Slow Burn and In the Dark:
Based on your recognition of the titles alone, you may not have much of an idea about the podcasts' themes. But with the cover images added, you can understand the shows' themes beyond their titles; for instance, that the second season of Slow Burn is about Bill Clinton's scandal and impeachment, rather than other potential themes for the title, like wildfire management or clinical depression.
So if your podcast is about sports, people scrolling by don't need to know your favorite players, but you should make it clear that it's a sports podcast. And if, say, your podcast is called On the Beat, people shouldn't have to guess whether it's about music or policing – your cover should give them a nudge in the right direction.
Choose a Color Pallet
Some companies pay lots of money to find the perfect color scheme for their branding. But you, a lowly podcaster (and we at Kapwing), can't pour cash into determining if A2AAEC or B1B8F1 is better for your brand. Luckily you don't have to. There's no real secret to making a colorful, appealing branded design. Just use colors you like!
Here's the caveat: finding colors you like can take a little bit of work, especially if you dive right into creating a design from scratch. I recommend setting aside some time at the beginning of your process to experiment with some simple color swatches. Think about combinations you like, the moods you associate with certain color schemes, and tweak the colors from there! Start with this article on pastel color boards if you need inspiration or a place to play around with colors on a canvas.
How to Make Podcast Cover Art
To create Podcast Cover Art that you can reuse for every episode, I recommend trying a multimedia web editor like Kapwing. Kapwing has easy to use design tools for custom text styling and visual shapes and images. Everything is backed up in the cloud, so you can return to the podcast art from your last episode, make a copy, and change the text without needing to reinvent the wheel every time you post an episode.
Get started by designing the background of your podcast art in the Kapwing Studio. Starting from a blank canvas, use the "Custom Size" tool to make your podcast art the correct dimension. For example, Anchor recommends a 3000x3000 pixel canvas as the ideal podcast art size. You can use this Anchor Podcast Art template to get started, if you prefer.
After the canvas is the right size, choose a splash of color for the background, upload a photo, or search for an image in the "Images" tool. Once you've added the background image, you can lock the image in place by choosing "Lock" from the layer actions.
Then, add the podcast art design on top of the background. You can you can create text boxes with custom font, color, position, style, angle, outline, and even custom glow and drop shadow effects. Media publishers with a Kapwing Pro subscription can upload their own font file to use with their art.
Have fun creating your podcast's new cover art! If you follow these four principles, you'll be sure to put together an eye-catching, distinctive, relevant cover that's perfect for any platform. For more updates, tips, and creative ideas, subscribe to Kapwing App on YouTube or follow us on Twitter @KapwingApp. In the meantime, check out these related articles on design in creative careers: